Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Hypocrisy on Firearms Enforcement? Congressman Beyer, Heal Thyself!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hypocrisy on Firearms Enforcement? Congressman Beyer, Heal Thyself!

On April 11, U.S. Rep. Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA) rolled out his so-called ATF Enforcement Act, H.R. 4905 in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.  Beyer claimed hypocrisy on the part of NRA and other pro-gun advocates who claim existing laws are not being adequately enforced. “We should call their bluff,” he wrote.

Those are big words coming from the author of a bill he claims would “remove obstacles in [ATF’s] path, while also removing provisions in the law that keep ATF from being abolished.” Either Beyer has not read his own legislation, or his version of “protect[ing] communities from violent criminals” includes registering law-abiding gun purchasers in a national database and other practices Congress has long repudiated because they diverted resources away from serious crime control.

As longtime Second Amendment advocates know, the history of ATF is the history of an agency trying to get its priorities straight. ATF has from its inception suffered from a tendency to focus on technical violations of complex regulations at the expense of individuals or businesses acting in good faith, rather than actually going after dangerous people who misuse firearms for criminal ends.

Scholar Dave Hardy explained how the original Gun Control Act of 1968 “was an invitation—actually, dozens of invitations —for [bureaucratic] abuse” and how ATF “began as a small branch of the IRS, mostly directed at shutting down ‘moonshiners’ in the rural South.” As Hardy put it, “they had been trained to bust moonshiners in the hills, not to make undercover buys in the inner city, which could be quite dangerous. Many turned to making cases against targets that were easier and safer to deal with—namely, gun collectors and dealers.”

Hardy wrote that account in the context of examining 1986’s Firearm Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA), which was Congress’ first major reaction to these bureaucratic abuses and misdirection of effort. Since that time, however, Congress has continued to keep ATF on track through defunding agency initiatives that primarily affect law-abiding gun owners and merchants instead of addressing violent crime. In all these situations, the goal (or outcome) has never been to handicap ATF from pursuing violent criminals but, indeed, to encourage the agency and free up its resources to do just that.

Beyer’s bill does absolutely nothing to expand ATF’s capacity to strike at the heart of crime. Rather, it simply revisits a generation worth of appropriations riders that Congress passed to protect law-abiding Americans from allowing the Gun Control Act to be used as a political cudgel against America’s tradition of lawful firearm ownership. Needless to say, this political abuse has only increased under President Obama’s watch, with outrages such as the Fast & Furious scandal and the administration’s attempt to ban, by executive fiat, one of the most popular types of ammunition for America’s most popular rifle.

The appropriations riders that Beyer’s bill would repeal include those that:

  • Prohibit using the records of federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs) -- including records concerning which customers legally bought which firearms -- from being centralized into a searchable, electronic federal registry;
     
  • Require personally-identifying records of lawful firearm sales, generated via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to be deleted within 24 hours (sales that are denied by NICS may already be retained);
     
  • Prohibit exactly the scenario we warned of in January, in which casual private sellers are pressured into becoming federal licensees, only to have their licenses revoked for low “business” volume;
     
  • Prohibit nosy media outlets and antigun activists from filing Freedom of Information Requests on mandatory FFL reports regarding customers who buy multiple handguns (these reports are filed with and available to law enforcement agencies already);
     
  • Prohibit the release of firearm trace information to antigun groups and trial lawyers so it can be misrepresented to the public (again, this information remains available to law enforcement agencies for legitimate enforcement efforts);
     
  • Require ATF to remind those who do obtain trace information of its limits in extrapolating broad conclusions about the entire universe or sources of “crime guns;”
     
  • Ban the importation of various collectible and popular firearms that already exist in large numbers in America (and have been previously imported lawfully) through increasingly restrictive interpretations of the law; and
     
  • Prohibit ATF’s functions or activities from being reassigned to other agencies.

Nothing in these riders prevents ATF from using traditional law enforcement investigative techniques and strategies to make cases against violent criminals who are using firearms to perpetrate their offenses or those who are intentionally supplying criminals with firearms. Indeed, law enforcement professionals (including ATF itself) have opposed the sort of release of firearm trace data that Beyer’s bill would allow.

Beyer’s Bill would also remove the Senate from the process of appointing ATF’s director. Why this should be a concern to a gun control advocate like Beyer is unclear. The U.S. Senate confirmed B. Todd Jones, President Obama’s nominee to head the agency, in 2013. They certainly can’t be blamed for Jones’s lackluster tenure or his decision to resign less than two years after his appointment.

Substance, however, is not the point of Beyer’s Act. Rather, it is a silly and ham-handed attempt to “send a message” that anybody familiar with federal firearms law will immediately recognize as nothing more than election year political grandstanding that would have no real impact on violent crime if passed.

TRENDING NOW
Obama Says Goodbye to America’s Gun Owners with (a Likely Short-lived) Lead Ammo Ban

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Obama Says Goodbye to America’s Gun Owners with (a Likely Short-lived) Lead Ammo Ban

Gun owners knew that Barack Obama would not leave quietly. The only question was what else was coming.  

Federal Appeals Court: Chicago Violates Second Amendment … Again

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Federal Appeals Court: Chicago Violates Second Amendment … Again

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that Chicago had once again violated the Second Amendment, this time with its regulations for gun ranges.

Gun Owners Welcome Donald J. Trump as President of the United States

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Gun Owners Welcome Donald J. Trump as President of the United States

Gun owners across the nation breathed a sigh of relief as Donald J. Trump was sworn in Friday morning as the 45th president of the United States.

Web Scraping: A Means to Push the Anti-Gun Agenda

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Web Scraping: A Means to Push the Anti-Gun Agenda

You may have read recently about a “breaking analysis” that includes numbers derived from a “mass shooting tracker,” which purports to present to the world, real world cases in which mass shootings have occurred.  One ...

New York Times Relies on Gun Prohibitionist Propaganda, Stigmatizes Suicide

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

New York Times Relies on Gun Prohibitionist Propaganda, Stigmatizes Suicide

In a December 5, 2015, front page editorial, the New York Times finally admitted what discerning readers had long understood – that the paper advocates the prohibition and confiscation of certain types of now-lawfully possessed firearms. ...

Your Members of Congress Need to Hear from You on the Hearing Protection Act of 2017

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Your Members of Congress Need to Hear from You on the Hearing Protection Act of 2017

On Monday, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) – joined by co-sponsors Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Rand Paul (R-KY) – introduced S. 59, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (HPA). Similar legislation was introduced in the ...

Alert: WA State Proposes Draconian Gun Ban Bills

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Alert: WA State Proposes Draconian Gun Ban Bills

Inspired, perhaps, by Oscar Wilde (“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess”), Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced two new sweeping gun control bills, with Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) and Rep. ...

New Hampshire: Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Passes Senate!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Hampshire: Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Passes Senate!

Today, Senate Bill 12, legislation eliminating the requirement to obtain a permit in order to lawfully carry, passed the Senate without amendment, by a 13-10 vote.  SB 12 will now go to the House of ...

National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

On January 3rd, Congressman Richard Hudson (R-N.C.8th) introduced H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which simply allows lawful firearm carriers from any state to carry a concealed firearm in any other state. The bill ...

Maryland: House Committee to Hear Anti-Self-Defense Bill Next Week

Monday, January 23, 2017

Maryland: House Committee to Hear Anti-Self-Defense Bill Next Week

On Tuesday, January 31 at 1:00pm, the House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear anti-gun legislation revived after failing last year in the Senate. 

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.